Dan Nolan

Visual Designer
User Experience Designer

DJN monogram

Kids Web Games: Part 1



  • design lead
  • user experience
  • game concept
  • visual design
  • illustration
  • animation

From 2006 into the early 2010s I worked on a lot of educational flash games for kids. Adobe Flash fizzled out for good reasons, but at that time it really did provide a great sandbox for a young designer to experiment with user interface, animation and interactivity all in one place.

I was working as a designer at GBH Digital—leading design work on games, sketching out game concepts, outlining the UX flow, prototyping and executing all the final design details. I was often working with existing assets from PBS series like FETCH! and Martha Speaks. I’d comb through animated clips and transform them into new experiences within our games, filling in the gaps with my own illustration and animation so everything came together in the style of the series we were working with.

Ruff Cut, for the PBS series FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman, is a group of mini games focusing on a weight and measurement curriculum. Ruff’s relatives help the user put on a puppet show, but first they all need a favor…

Set up Glen’s fantasy figurines in the correct order by size. Help Bluff pack and ship boxes at his factory. And arrange family photos in Grandma’s photo album.

Each mini game has animated whiteboard instructions explaining how to play.

In one game, the user places sheep on a scale to find the heaviest one out of the group. Then the heaviest one gets dragged to the barn for shearing.

The wool is for Helga’s fashion line and upcoming fashion show. I created these looks in the illustration style of the series.

Don’t let the pirates fall off the ship! Balance cargo equally on both sides so Blackmuzzle’s ship can sail off smooth and steady.

Kids can learn about asthma and the particles that affect breathing while playing this vertical scroller game for the PBS series, Arthur. The original version was in flash but it’s now available in html. Check out Buster Baxter: Lung Defender.

I designed and animated these particles that travel through the lungs in each level.

Throw acorns to squirrels in this fast-paced memory game with environmental tips.

Martha Speaks True Stories is a series of interactive books helping kids learn how to read and understand non-fiction. We keep the experience fun and engaging with clickable elements throughout.

In Kibble Contraption, the user steps through a how-to guide while building a DIY dog food dispenser.

Super Inventions is about animal traits and characteristics that humans have borrowed and learned from for our own inventions.